October 16-17, 2018 | Lincoln, Nebraska
nsf logo link
2018 NRIC speakers
portrait of Neal Grandgenett


Noah Fierer
University of Colorado at Boulder
Searching for simplicity amidst the complexity of the soil microbiome
Soils harbor diverse microbial communities, including large numbers of taxa that remain undescribed despite their importance to terrestrial biogeochemical cycles and other ecosystem properties. With recent methodological advances, we can gain unprecedented insight into the diversity of soil microbial communities. I will discuss a series of studies where we have been exploring the structure and function of soil microbial communities, and specific microbial taxa, across spatial scales ranging from the local scale (Central Park in New York City) to the continental scale (all of North America). These studies demonstrate that, despite their complexity, soil microbial communities and their functional attributes are often predictable. We can now begin charting the enormous amount of biodiversity that exists belowground and identifying the specific traits that allow microbes to cope with the biotic and abiotic challenges of living in the soil environment.
Noah Fierer, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a microbial ecologist and his research program focuses on microbes living in a range of environments, including those bacteria, fungi, and protists living inside our homes, in soil, on plants, and in the atmosphere. His group uses various approaches, including DNA sequencing and high-throughput cultivation, to explore the diversity and structure of microbial communities, identify the fundamental controls on microbial processes, and examine the mechanisms by which microorganisms influence the health of ecosystems, plants, and animals (including humans). For more information, see: http://fiererlab.org.